The Philadelphia Eagles seemed to be well on their way to a 3-2 record Sunday as they led the Washington Redskins at home 14-0. Then, as soon as they built what was a solid lead, it quickly went bye bye, and by the time the Eagles knew what hit them, they were on the losing end for the second straight week, falling at home to the Skins 23-17.
The Niners also enter Sunday coming off a loss, as they dropped a home contest to the New England Patriots 30-21. They were held to a season-low 199 total yards and outscored 23-7 in the final three quarters of the loss that put them at 2-3 on the season. Both 2-3 teams want to get back on track and end two-game losing streaks when they do battle at Monster Park at 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday.
The Eagles have big issues, as their biggest playmaker, Brian Westbrook, may be out again due to fractured ribs. He contends that since he played with them vs the Skins, he’ll be able to go vs the Niners, but how effective he’ll be remains to be seen. There is a big dropoff in production with Westbrook out of the lineup, and it will be up to Donovan McNabb and the WR core to pick up the slack.
McNabb came out Wednesday and said he was flat out embarrassed by his teams recent performance, and that he was going to take it upon himself to turn it around. Without Westbrook, it may be up to McNabb to find a way to put up points. One stat of note for the Eagles is they have scored 38 points in the second halves of their first five games, compared to 89 points before halftime. They’ve totaled only nine second-half points in their last two games.
They are putting up 342.6 yards per game, and allowing just 274, but can’t seem to stop making the silly mistakes that have cost them three losses, plus they have not been able to put teams away because of their inability to score points in the second half. Against the Niners and their D, it is not going to be easy.
The thing that has held the Niners at bay the last two weeks have been turnovers, and the play of QB J.T. O’Sullivan can be traced back to those turnovers, as he has thrown five interceptions and four TD’s the past two weeks, both losses. In the Niners two wins, O’Sullivan had thrown three TD’s and no picks.
San Fran was able to hang with awhile with the Pats, but the turnovers were their downfall, and they will work hard this week to try and shore that up. One positive has been the play of WR Isaac Bruce, who had two scores last week and leads the team with 14 grabs for 275 yards and four TD’s. Frank Gore also is playing well, with 423 yards and three scores.
The Niners D is allowing 344 yards per game, and 128.4 on the ground, so look for Philly to try and run the ball with whoever is in there, but it will mostly fall on the shoulders of McNabb to get it done. San Fran does have the ability to play better on D, and should start to mature into a solid defense as the season continues.
This game could come down to the play of the two QB’s. McNabb is a solid vet, and his calling out of his teammates and himself is going to serve as motivation to play a better game on Sunday. O’Sullivan is in a major slump, and the Eagles D will play well enough to force turnovers again and get back East with a 10-point win.